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Saturday, 23 August 2014

Delicious and Moist Cinnamon Tea Cake Recipe baked with a Cookswell Oven

Today's recipe is a favorite, Cinnamon Tea Cake - we LOVE cinnamon ^_^

Very pleased with the results since it came out very moist and delicious. 

Of course it's baked with an energy saving charcoal oven from Cookswell and the results are the same as if baked from an electric or gas oven, possibly even better (we're biased ^_^) - for anyone out there who doubts that a charcoal oven can bake amazing cakes.
Here's the recipe:
Cinnamon Tea Cake

Cinnamon Tea Cake


For Topping:
  • Margarine or Butter - 1 Tbspn (Melted)
  • Ground Cinnamon   - 1 tspn
  • Sugar                        - 1 Tbspn


1. Preheat your oven to 350 °F or a medium heat. Grease and flour an 8 inch round pan and set aside.
Greased and floured pan
2. Measure your dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and cinnamon) and sift them into a medium bowl; set aside.
Measure and sift your dry ingredients

3. In a small bowl, beat one egg and set aside. Then measure the sugar and fat in a large deep bowl.
Beat egg, then set aside

4. Cream the sugar and fat for about 3 to 5 minutes until a bit white in color.

Cream your sugar and fat until whitish in color
Then add the beaten egg, one at a time only until well incorporated; at least 1 minute each time. The mixture might look curdled, that's alright.
Add egg and mix thoroughly

5. Add half the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture and fold in with a wooden spoon or spatula. Then add the rest of the dry ingredients and fold in with the milk; add milk gradually until you have the preferred drop consistency.
6. Pour your batter into the prepared pan ready to bake. Place your pan in the middle rack. If using a charcoal oven; ensure that the oven has reached the preferred temperature before starting to bake the cake.
Your cake is ready to bake

7. Bake the cake for 50 to 60 minutes or until brown on top and a clean skewer or knife inserted should come out clean.
8. Remove your cake from oven and cool in the pan for 10 to 20 minutes. Then remove the cake from pan and place on a cooling rack or tray to complete cooling. In a small bowl; mix the sugar and cinnamon for the topping.
9. Right after you remove the cake from pan. Brush the melted butter or margarine with a pastry brush on top of the cake and then sprinkle the cinnamon sugar on top of the cake - while still warm.
Brush with butter and top with cinnamon sugar

10. You can serve the cake while still warm or wait to cool completely to serve.

Enjoy your delicious cake with some tea or coffee ^_^
Cinnamon Tea Cake ready to eat

If you do try it out please feel free to comment below on your results.

If you would like to learn how to bake with a Cookswell  Charcoal oven with us; sign up for our Cake baking and Decoration course today and get started on making delish cakes such as this one ^_^!
For more info, email us at: amaribreads@gmail.com
You can also call or drop a text to: 0701796688

Thursday, 21 August 2014

5 Easy Ways to Save Costs in Your Small Bakery Business in Kenya

When you start a small bakery business, the first few years are quite difficult; especially when it comes to controlling and keeping the overhead costs low. 

However; there are different ways in which you can keep your costs down in order to keep your business moving forward.

Since we want to start helping individuals start small bakeries in Kenya, here are some ways you can get started on saving costs in your small bakery – before they get out of hand ^_^.
These easy ways are guaranteed to help you out – they work for us.

1. Purchase all your stock in bulk i.e. production ingredients and packaging
Most people who start a small baking business purchase their first stock in bulk, but as time goes on and challenges are encountered; a small bakery owner slowly resorts to buying in retail. Most new business encounter this challenge and it’s very important to ensure that you don’t make it a habit. Make a budget for your small bakery and be aware of how the stock is used in production and how often it needs to be purchased. This will help you be prepared to re-stock when required and you can make sure you have the cash required for the bulk purchases. The second thing is to make sure you get different quotations from at least three vendors or wholesalers for your stock, this way you choose the best price for your budget and if possible, save money. Ensure you do this for all your stock; that is, flour, fats, sugars, raising agents, eggs, flavorings, garnishes, cake boxesand packaging papers.
Buy stock in bulk for economical purposes

2. Get the best deal you can on your rent expense
One of the most challenging overhead expenses is rent; it is a constant expense that has to be paid monthly. For a new bakery business, it can have a negative impact on your progress when it’s not managed well. Therefore the best thing to do is find ways to be prepared for the rent expense. First you must ensure if you are starting a small bakery business and have found a location; ensure you have at least three months of rent set aside. If you can manage six months of rent set aside, even better; it will ensure that you will be set for the first few months as you work on stabilizing your small bakery business. The second thing is to make sure you choose the right location; area-wise and within your budget. If you do not have a large budget, don’t go looking for a space in a high-rent location; look for a location that has you target market and is also within your budget range. Most locations have a set amount you should pay for rent, however if it’s negotiable, try and see if you can get a lesser rate. Another option you can try is getting a space where another larger business has set-up their business. An example is a local supermarket; you can discuss how you can set up your bakery within the supermarket and you can pay rent to the owner of the business. You can also ask a restaurant owner who may have an extra space for you to fit a bakery kitchen and you pay him/her rent.
If you find you can’t afford a rental expense or if you’re current renting space is not working out – you can run your small bakery from home. You can either create a space in your kitchen for the purpose of baking only. You can also build a bakery kitchen structure outside your compound and that can be your home-bakery where you run your business (that’s what we did ^_^). It is very economical and saves you the rental expense, especially if you have the space to do it.
Get a great rental deal for your Bakery space (Image: wikispaces)

3. Control your payroll expenses
Another expense that can be quite a challenge to control in a bakery business is payroll; the busier and larger your bakery is, the more employees you need to hire. The first thing you should do is start with the minimum number of employees you can manage and then add them as sales increase. If you already know how to bake, you can decide to be the head baker and then hire an extra person to assist with packing and selling at the counter. If you have a home-based bakery; you can be able to hire part time help as you start and then as sales increase, hire the workers full time. Ensure that all your employees are working to capacity and effectively. If you feel you have too many workers and can reduce them until you can manage their payroll, please do so. It’s a difficult task, but it’s better to correct the situation than have that one expense bring down your business.
Manage your payroll effectively

4. Create a marketing plan within your budget
When you start your small bakery business in Kenya, ensure that you have a marketing plan within your budget. This will help you market your business effectively. An example is using measurable marketing that can guide you on what’s working and what isn’t; such as Facebook Ad marketing. The easiest way to market on a budget is online by creating a website, opening at least two social media pages (Facebook & Twitter) and having a blog. These ways are effective since you can plan your time on when to post or schedule posts on them and also maintain an economical internet usage plan.
These methods are effective whether you have a home bakery or a specific bakery shop/location. You should also add on some print material to use when necessary such as business cards, brochures and menus. For more information on marketing please visit this business blog for more details. You can also click here to find out how to market your small bakery online.
Have a marketing plan for your business (Image: dannyvermette.com)

5. Use equipment that is economical and low cost for your small bakery
Starting a bakery is quite costly due to the equipment required to get started, as well as the stock you require for production. For a small bakery start-up, it’s more economical to purchase equipment that is budget-friendly and helps reduce expenses as well; such as a charcoal oven. It’s also imperative to get an original charcoal oven that will help you reduce cost on charcoal use such as a Cookswell charcoal oven. These ovens are made with quality materials and by qualified artisans and therefore save energy – you use less charcoal per batch. We can definitely guarantee the quality of these ovens since we’ve used an imitation charcoal oven and then a Cookswell Charcoal oven and have seen the charcoal usage difference. The ovens come in different sizes so you can choose from small 10 loaf capacity to 40 loaf capacity ovens.
We use Cookswell Charcoal ovens because they save energy
For baking pans; instead of purchasing them from supermarkets (they are of superior quality but are very expensive), purchase from bake-ware stores such as Topserve Ltd in the Nairobi CBD or from jua kali artisans. They are more economical, especially when purchased in bulk.
As for electronic equipment such as mixers and utensils such as measuring spoons and cups, weighing scales and bowls. Purchase from kitchen and bake-ware shops, but make sure you conduct price check on at least three shops to get the most for your money.

These five tips are guaranteed to help you save costs in your small bakery business in Kenya.

If you have any extra tips to add as a baker running a small bakery in Kenya, please feel free to comment below please ^_^

We offer bakery business training workshops every month on different topics. To find out what we will be teaching in our next Business Masterclass, click here for information on how to book a class.
You can also get our book on "How to startup a small bakery business successfully" to gain more insight on how to start and run a successful small bakery business. Click here for for information

Saturday, 9 August 2014

BAKING FOR BUSINESS: Food Colors, flavorings and Additives Used in Commercial Baking in Kenya

This is the fourth post on the Baking For Business Series.

In this post we'll share various flavorings, additives, improvers and preservatives used for commercial baking in Kenya.

1. Flavorings and Essences
Vanilla Essence
If your small bakery business menu will consist of cupcakes and cakes, you will need essences in your bakery pantry. Examples of these, depending on your recipes are; Vanilla Essence (available in liquid and powder form), Almond Essence, Orange essence, Orange oil, Lemon essence, Chocolate essence, Peppermint essence, Strawberry Essence, Coconut essence, Pineapple Essence, among many other flavorings. These are used to flavor or bring the best flavor of cakes. These flavorings are available mostly in liquid form, and in bottles of 50 ml, 250 ml, 500 ml and 1 liter sizes. They range from Kshs. 100 to 200 for the 50 ml bottles; Kshs. 260 to 300 for 500 ml bottles and Kshs. 400 to 500 for the 1 liter bottles. You can also get vanilla in powder form; 1 Kg goes for about Kshs. 1,200 in a store such as Pradip Enterprises in the Nairobi CBD.

2. Bread Improver

Bread improver
Bread improver is a food additive that is combined with wheat flour to improve bread and scone doughs in order to get a better end result for your baked products. Bread improver is used to improve strength and malleability of dough as well as speed up the proofing/rising process. If your bakery will focus on making of commercial products for wholesale distribution such as breads, buns or scones; you will require bread improver. Small bakeries that bake fresh bread daily don't have to use the improver, if they don't mind the longer process of bread making that gives a deeper taste and texture. However, as a small bakery owner, you can choose to do so if you are concerned about improving the texture of your bread products and production speed. There are different types of improvers with various functions depending on the bakery's particular needs. There are bleaching agents; added to flour to make it appear whiter and also help with the developing of gluten. There are reducing agents; they help to break protein networks and therefore weaken the flour. These agents assist in reducing mixing and proofing time. Another category are oxidation agents; they assist with gluten development which creates a stronger dough. You can purchase bread improver for your bakery at an ingredients shop such as Pradip enterprises. It is sold in 250 gms at Kshs. 125, 500 gms at Kshs. 200 or 1 Kg at Kshs. 350; it is also available in a 25 Kg bag. Make sure you inquire on the ratios used for your bread dough from the distributor.

3. Food Colors

Liquid Food Color
If you will be offering birthday cakes and cupcakes in your small bakery menu, you will require food colors. They are used for various purposes; for adding certain colors to your frosting, for baking cake recipes that call for food color in the batter e.g. Rainbow Cake, Pink Marble or Red Velvet Cake. Some bakeries also choose to add an egg yellow color in their buns or scones. There are different food colors you can purchase based on brand and quality. The most popular and easily available options are powder color usually found in 10 gms, 50 gms, 250gms, 500gms and 1 Kg packages. The smaller 10 gms & 50 gms are available in major supermarkets and range from Kshs. 25 & Kshs. 80 to 100 respectively. Shops such as Topserve Ltd also stock these food colors in the smaller sizes. For the larger sizes, look for shops such as Pradip. Prices range from 250 gms at Kshs.300, 500 gms at Kshs. 600 and 1 Kg at Kshs. 1160. You can also find liquid colors, they are usually highly concentrated and of a better quality. The smaller sizes, such as the one pictured above; range from Kshs. 120 to 200 for the 50 ml bottles and are easily found in supermarkets or shops such as Asami Ltd in the Nairobi CBD. For larger sizes, shops such as Pradip stock them. For a rare color such as black, you can find it in gel paste form sold in Topserve Ltd, it ranges from Kshs. 400 to 450.
Another form of liquid color that also has a flavor you can use are liquid emulsions. These are found in shops such as Pradip and range from Kshs. 230-800 for 500 ml, Kshs. 450 to 750 for 1 liter depending on flavors, e.g. Caramel, Black Currant, Chocolate Dark among other flavors. These flavors are strong and therefore more expensive, they can also be used as flavorings or flavor substitutions.

4. Fillings and Garnishes
Cherries used as a garnish on Amari Cupcakes
If you're starting a bakery with cakes, cupcakes and sponges in your menu, you'll need to stock some fillings and garnishes. Examples are cherries; used for garnishing and for Black Forrest cakes. They can be found in stores such as Walibhai Karim or Pradip; supermarkets such as Nakumatt also stock them sometimes. They range from 180 gms at Kshs. 225, 250 gms at Kshs. 250 and wholesale 1 Kg at Kshs. 800. Other garnishes you might require are coconut shavings or desiccated coconut which is usually found in major supermakets in 50 gms for about Kshs. 55 or 200gms for about Kshs. 170. You can also find it in shops such as Walibhai Karim. Other garnishes you can find in cake shops and supermarkets are sugar sprinkles and chocolate sprinles (sometimes labeled as 'Decocceli'). Cake Fruit for baking Fruit Cakes, is also found in supermarkets and cake ingredients shops. You can also find fillings such as blueberry fillings in cake shops such as Topserve Ltd.
5. Preservatives
Most small bakeries prefer not to use preservatives in their products (we're one of those bakeries) and prefer to bake fresh daily. However, if you're starting a bakery that is going to be baking and distributing baked products to other retail outlets such as local shops etc; you might need to use preservatives in your baked products, if you want to increase the shelf life of the products. You need to get the required preservatives for your products and make sure you find out the approved quantities from the distributor of the preservatives as well as KEBS (Kenya Bureau of Standards). A commonly used preservative for bread products is calcium propionate; it's a mould inhibitor and therefore very useful for commercial wholesale bread and scone bakeries looking to extend their products' shelf life. Ingredients stores such as Pradip stock the preservative in packages of 1 Kg and even 25 Kg. Price ranges from Kshs. 350 and 6,875 respectively. 
Ascorbic acid is another agent that can be used as a preservative for cakes and other cake and pastry products. It's said to be a more natural preservative since it's a form of Vitamin C. However, there is industrial ascorbic acid that is man-made; it is used to preserve and not for nutritional purposes. It comes in 1 Kg and 25 Kg packages as well in shops such as Pradip Enterprises; price ranges are Kshs. 800 and 20,000 respectively.

The above are the most commonly used flavorings, additives and preservatives used in commercial baking in Kenya. However there are many more out there and if you have suggestions or inquiries, please feel free to comment below.

If you would like to start a small bakery business in Kenya, we offer baking classes - in order for you to learn how to make delicious goodies the right way. Click here to find out which courses.
We also offer monthly bakery business workshops to help small bakery owners gain the business skills needed to run a small baking business.

You can also purchase our book: "How to Startup a Small Bakery Business Successfully." The printed version is Kshs. 500 and the E-book is Kshs. 250. Click on this link to find out where and how to get it.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

7 Easy Steps to Torte and Decorate a Mini-Cake with Royal Icing

Today's recipe will be Royal Icing and how to torte a cake and decorate with it.

You may be wondering what 'torting' is - if you don't already know; torting a cake is taking a layer of cake you have baked and slicing it into many layers.

Lemon Mini-cake with Royal icing

This is a simple recipe and a simple easy way of torting a cake so that you can practice it at home.

Royal Icing Recipe

* Icing Sugar - 2 cups
* Egg White  - 1 pce (med. egg)
* Juice of 1 lemon
* Light purple food color - 1 tspn 

1. Sift your icing sugar into a medium bowl and set aside. Squeeze your lemon for juice; sieve it and set it aside.
2. Separate an egg white and pour it into a large bowl. Beat the egg white until foamy white.
3. Add the lemon juice to the egg white mixture by pouring it on the side of the bowl; then sift half the sugar on top of the egg white and beat until well incorporated. Add the rest of the sugar and beat until well mixed as well.
Beating sugar into egg white mixture
4. Beat the mixture until it's foamy, this can take as long as 10 minutes. 
Royal Icing ready to use

Your frosting is ready.
Torting and frosting the Cake
1. Take your cooled lemon mini cake and set it on a board. Level it with a bread knife; until it is flat on top. 
Lemon Mini-cake
Leveling the Mini-cake
2. Slice the cake from the middle once, make sure you slice it as straight as you can manage. Then place the top slice of the cake onto a flat surface like a cake board or a plate; making sure the top of the cake is on the bottom of the plate. Set on a flat surface ready to begin frost.
Torte the cake once
3. Scoop some royal icing with an icing spatula and apply onto the surface of the first slice of cake. Spread the icing well until it's at the edge of the cake.
Spread icing onto the first layer
4. Place the second slice of the cake on top of the icing upside down, the bottom of the cake of the second slice will be on the top. Start frosting the cake by spreading the icing on the top of the cake and ensuring it has a smooth finish.
Spread frosting on the top
5. Add frosting to the sides of the cake and spread around the sides as well and make sure it has a smooth finish.
Frost the side of the mini-cake
6. Once you have frosted the mini cake; set aside and add the light purple food color into the remainder of the icing. Ensure the colored royal icing is slightly running. Drizzle the purple royal icing slowly and carefully on the sides of your mini cake so that it drizzle to the sides of the cake.
7. For a nice finish, you can add some sugar sprinkles onto the top of the cake for some color.
Add some sprinkles and your cake is ready!
Your cake is ready to eat ^_^ - enjoy!
Delish lemon cake

*Royal icing has a tendency to dry up fast, make sure you work fast while frosting the cake so that it doesn't dry up while you're still smoothing the top or sides.

We offer a Basic Cake Decoration Course if you would like to learn how to frost cake with different kinds of frostings. For more details; visit our Baking Classes page
You can also email at: amaribreads@gmail.com or Call/Text/WhatsApp: 0701796688